The Burning Gadulka – Review




The Performance The Burning Gadulka by Rajko Baichev presented by Miro Kokenov is an extremely exciting journey that reveals universal problems through the prism of folklore traditions and music.


The protagonist in this story is a Gadulka player (Miro Kokenov) with years of experience in the folklore ensemble. The Gadulka player from the outset clearly indicates the source of his distresses – the Gadulka (his own musical instrument) and the problems the gadulka has caused him.  Problems like – fear of taking responsibility, self-pity, his inability to keep pace with the modern times and his inability relationship of the other gender. The Gadulka player persistently blamed the gadulka for his shortcomings and failures.  He may as well have chosen a chair or a pen to lash out his inmost anger, dissatisfaction, and interpersonal inadequacy. The gadulka is a mere symbol that brings out all our hidden personal issues and fears.


The Burning Gadulka also reveals the issue with technology reducing the demand for unique craftsmanship and crashing traditions into pixels. The Gadulka player is extinguishing and computers play forever finer tunes. The folklore ensembles breathing their last breaths with last standing members who have no one to hand their skills over to. Some get by from one concert to another, making ends meet, just!  Others, however, leave the ensemble and abandon their instruments.  I never had the perseverance it takes to master an instrument, but I know it takes years of excruciating labour.  It’s like a child that you have brought up with so much care, such efforts and pain.  Now seeing it’s all been in vain, must be heart breaking!


Finally, the Gadulka player finds his strength and smashes the gadulka into pieces. Then we see him alone, waiting for the change that will never come, with all his personal issues still unresolved. 


After the show I asked myself what is my ‘Gadulka’.  For me it was my parents.  Only if they’d not argued so much, if they’d not split up, if they’d not sent me to live and study alone at 13 years of age…  I would blame them for all my struggles, all my miseries.  Then I grew up and met people with perfect families, who were going through the same struggles and so I snapped out of the blame game and managed to get a grip of my life.  But not many manage to do so.  I wonder what’s your ‘Gadulka’?  Do you also use alcohol to run away from it all?  Do you use all sorts of excuses, outside of your control or buried into the past, for your failures today?  People have a unique way to see beyond the cover and pierce into the depths the others’ self-worth.


On the one hand I'm familiar with technological advancements and I can’t help but favour it, but on the other hand I think of the performance I saw where the symbols of one nation - its folklore and traditions are slowly disappearing due to upcoming technological development.  A sinking realisation dawned on me that this loss is irreversible.  And I cherished ever more this consuming and purifying hour I spent watching The Burning Gadulka performed by Miro Kokenov.  I hope the audience will take this chance to enjoy Bulgarian folklore and as well as The Balkan’s culture.


The article was published on 10.03.2017

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